Monday, May 25, 2020

New Crew Member…

We’ve been waiting for a new member of Seyella’s crew to make her way across Europe since Thursday, but, after a vehicle break-down and various hold-ups she finally arrived last evening.

Meet Amber.

The van delivered her to us outside Ellesmere Tesco’s

She’s a rescue from Romania where they’re rounded up and destroyed if not offered new homes. The transport dropped off in Germany and France on the way, so it’s not just us Brits who are daft on dogs…

She’d made a good friend of one of the drivers, I think he’d have kept her if he could, so was reluctant to leave him. I carried her most of the 100 yards to the boat but as soon as she got aboard she found a new BFF!

I felt quite left out…

She ate and drank then fell asleep, it must be quite stressful to be rehomed in this way and sleep is the best therapy.

At bedtime she was whining a bit for being left alone but settled down after a quarter hour or so, curling up in her nice soft bed. Two small accidents overnight saw us exploring the towpath at 2 and 5, not really her fault but she really needs to give me more notice!
Out again at half six when we could see what we were doing.

Today she’s been dozing through the morning, going out regularly so she knows where to pee, she was a bit barky earlier on as dogs started appearing on the towpath but a bit of focus training (with the help of chicken sausage) has improved that already. I think she’s going to be a quick study but I’ll leave it a couple more days before starting training properly.

She’s around 11 months old, one of the lucky ones who was picked up off the streets by a rescue shelter rather than the municipal authorities. She’d been there for 6 months during which two attempted adoptions fell through for no fault of hers.

We’ll do some easy cruising for the next couple of weeks, no banging about in locks (as if!) to get her used to the motion and engine noise, though after spending 2,500 travelling in a van canal cruising should be a luxury!

We moved into the arm on Friday and she should have been with us on Saturday, but the delays lost the transport a day. I think we’ll head back out to our usual spot later today. The birds will be missing us, then what we do next depends on how well Amber settles in. She’s doing well at the moment…

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Just to let you know we’re still here…

Nothing much happening I’m afraid. But it looks like things are stirring a little, with the government starting to ease the lockdown restrictions. CRT have followed this by allowing limited boat travel.

Those who have a permanent moorings can visit their craft and even go on a short out and back cruise from today, and from Saturday those of us who live aboard are let off the leash and can cruise, short distances for a start, but not restricted to travel for key services only.
On June 1 all restrictions should be lifted and normal cruising is anticipated to be possible. A lot can happen between then and now though. Fingers crossed.

At the moment sections of the northern canal network have chained-up locks to prevent unauthorised access in order to save water after the dry spring. But these are not the only canals with water supply issues. The Panama Canal is also having problems.

The 51 mile canal, crossing the isthmus (fine word, that) between the Caribbean and the Pacific opened in 1914 and has recently undergone improvements to allow larger vessels to use the waterway. Each lock on the 86-foot climb to the summit level at Lake Gatun uses a massive 22 million gallons of water to fill, although the use of side-ponds (like Watford and Foxton on the Leicester Line) reduce the water consumption a little. Compare that to our Lilliputian locks, broad ones take around 53,000 gallons, narrows only around 31,000.

Lower than average rainfall and higher than normal temperatures mean that the lake’s level is dropping, and restrictions on vessel sizes and surcharges have had to be introduced.

Miraflores Locks at the Pacific end of the canal.

That’s it for now, we’re keeping in touch with the northern branch of the family using Zoom, the Midlands branch by phone. All well, so far.

Keep well, TTFN.

Locks 0, miles 1

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A day early…

Usually we come into the Ellesmere Arm for shopping on Friday, but we’ve moved today this week. The washing machine has taken a beating, with the fine weather giving us a chance to get washing dry, so if it didn’t move it got laundered! Consequently the water tank was low and rather than run out we moved around to the wharf to top up before heading down to moor on the arm.

It’s been a steady week, modifications on my bird table/feeder thingy have been partially successful in keeping the persistent pigeons at bay…

…giving the smaller chaps a chance to eat.

Three of eight that drifted past the other day…

Nearly full moon on Monday.

I also got a couple of mucky jobs done. The drip mats under the engine needed changing, unfortunately, as is common with age, old Desmond the diesel has become a little leaky. Not a lot, less than a half-litre between oil changes, but worth soaking up to keep the sump clean.

I normally use those oil pads you can pick up from chandlers, but I had some large incontinence sheets left over from when Meg had a problem last year, and they fit perfectly. Cheaper, too.

The other job was easier, giving the chimney a good sweep. So with my arms grimy with oil and drive-belt dust I got them sooty too. I was hoping we wouldn’t be lighting the stove again, but it’s going to get cold this weekend it seems.

I also moved the bike, John Sage, from it’s winter storage on the rack behind the tiller, gave it a good oiling up and it’s now on the roof. It still looks decidedly shabby, but at least that makes it less of a prize for a passing light-fingered oik.

The counter looks a lot tidier now. I polished the tiller and pins, and scrubbed the dangly things.

The deck needs a scrub but that’ll keep till tomorrow.

I see Boris is going to give us an idea how we get back to normal on Sunday. Hopefully we’ll be able to toddle on a bit next week, but I’m not holding my breath. Having said that, there are one or two boats passing through, so not everyone is staying put.

Locks 0, miles ¼